Wayne State University to collaborate on $75 million DOE award

Dr. Leela Arava, College of Engineering, will lead a new DOE-funded project to develop advanced manufacturing education for high school students.
Leela Mohana Reddy Arava, Ph.D., College of Engineering, will lead a newly-funded DOE project to develop advanced manufacturing education for high school students.

College of Engineering to develop advanced manufacturing education for high school students

DETROIT - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the State of Michigan announced a collective award of cash incentives and grants totaling $75 million to build workforce development for Nel Hydrogen’s new factory to be built in Plymouth, Michigan, that will enable the creation of more than 500 high-tech jobs. The electrolyser production facility will make a significant contribution to energy transition that will stimulate a clean energy economy.

Wayne State University’s College of Engineering will play a major role in this new initiative by providing hands-on experiences to high school students and establishing robust workforce training in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. Leela Mohana Reddy Arava, Ph.D., associate dean for research and graduate studies and professor of mechanical engineering in Wayne State’s College of Engineering, will lead the three-year, $853,000 project.

“Our goal is to ensure that students have access to an advanced manufacturing education that can lead to careers in emerging technologies dealing with hydrogen and fuel cells technologies in facilities such the new Nel Hydrogen factory,” said Arava. “Our plan is to engage and recruit underrepresented minority students from high school through graduate levels to participate in educational and workforce development activities. This will lead to a six-week summer internship program for high school students.”

The program will engage and recruit underrepresented minor students and will leverage Wayne State’s “Mobile Energy Lab” program, which was founded by Arava in 2015 to instill enthusiasm for science for middle school students within the Detroit Public Schools. Through these programs, Arava and his team attracted students from Cass Tech High School, Detroit Collegiate Preparatory High School, Old Redford Academy, AGBU Alex & Marie Manoogian School, Fordson High School, Farmington High School, Canton High School, Novi High School, and Troy High School.

“The main objective of this outreach program is to raise awareness in underserved communities about emerging technologies such as hydrogen and fuel cells technologies and to help youth consider a career path in STEM fields,” said Ali Abolmaali, Ph.D., dean of Wayne State’s College of Engineering. “In particular, this program will give guidance to first-generation and minority college students. With an overall student population of 31% African Americans and 8% of other under-represented minorities, Wayne State has one of the largest minority student populations of any non-historically black university in the U.S. This program will be well-served  under Dr. Arava’s leadership.”

“By providing young minds with a support structure to build their skills and develop their ambition, programs such as this one led by Dr. Arava have the potential to impact their future careers and, ultimately, their lives,” said Ezemenari Obasi, Ph.D., vice president for research at Wayne State University. “I look forward to seeing the successes of this important program.”

To learn more about the award made to Nel Hyrdrogen, visit https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/nel-asa-receives-additional-usd-75-million-in-support-for-michigan-facility-302088416.html.

The grant number for this Department of Energy award is DE-FOA-0002922. The project falls under Topic 1: Low-Cost, High-Throughput Electrolyzer Manufacturing.


About Wayne State University

Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit research.wayne.edu.


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Email: julie.oconnor@wayne.edu